The smell of hops is unmistakable but difficult to explain. It is unique, and for that very reason trying to describe it is virtually impossible. «You’re wrong” — Davide interrupts me — “we define it as a mix of herbaceous, citrusy, spicy, floral, earthy, resinous and fruity scents». We burst into laughter as we shake hands. If it starts like this, I think to myself, I dare not imagine what the day will bring.
It’s early in the morning and it’s quite an experience to enter a brewery at this hour. We are used to associating this environment with the time of relaxation, of fun — from 6 p.m. onwards, you get the idea. Yet of course, there are people who devote body and mind from dawn till dusk so that we can sit at a bar, order a beer and decree that the working day is over. Davide is one of them.
But Davide is also a cyclist. One of those who jumps into the saddle as soon as he can — two hours during the week to distract himself a little, a long ride at the weekend, a few kilometres of commuting or to visit customers. This is how two worlds come together, two that only those who ride know how close they are.
«I don’t really know why, but for no particular reason I started following cycling in the early 90s, watching the Grand Tours on TV. I came to passionately love and hate Bugno, Chiappucci and Rominger in the hope that they could oust Indurain, whose class I only really understood more recently. Needless to say, how much I enjoyed the whole Pantani era, the challenges with Tonkov and Ulrich, and that fantastic season of 1998». Davide tells me this whilst he carefully explains the production process of EDIT Brewing.
«What moments then with the various Tafi, Bartoli and Bettini. There was no Classica or stage of a big tour that I didn’t follow on television, and when possible, live. But it all ended there. My sport was snowboarding, the life I wanted was in the mountains, my dream was to become an instructor. I came very close to it, but fragile knees and an empty wallet made me resign myself to everyday life. So I continued to be a salesman, without much inspiration, in the furniture business».
He is a river in flood, Davide, as he recounts his life. A common story like many others, but exceptional precisely because of this. As we prepare for the afternoon ride, however, everything changes. Drinking, courses, chatting, more drinking, more courses and more chatting — the world of craft beer becomes a fulcrum in Davide’s everyday life, and is the cue to turn. «It takes me a while but eventually I give up and decide it’s time for a change. The opportunities to work in the beer industry were few, but Belgium came my way. For a couple of years I fed myself on just bread and water, toiling away to make ends meet, but eventually I joined the friendly staff of a start-up importing beers from Belgium. Dozens of van tours in what became, for me, a bit of a promised land and a second home. Obviously for the beer, but also for their boundless passion for cycling».
«By the way, do you know what they taught me to call beer there?» «Shoot», I reply. «Social lubricant!» Perfect timing: we put a few drops of oil on our chains, inflate the tyres and are ready for our two hours.
With the last change in his bank account, for his 40th birthday Davide buys his first bike worthy of the occasion. «It has taken me everywhere my injuries have allowed me to go, and I still ride it constantly. I still enjoy thinking about the satisfaction of the first time I arrived at the Victory Lighthouse, at the top of the Colle della Maddalena in Turin. And to think that it has now become one of my weekly rides».
The Piedmontese capital is one of those cities where a bike lover can indulge themself. Davide explains it well, between one pedal stroke and the next. «The Panoramica, Superga and the whole Turin hill. In no time at all, you’re in the middle of a forest and you can train on some pretty steep gradients. Then there are the parks, where I make up my own cyclocross laps — asphalt, gravel, ramps, cambered slopes, humidity. In Belgium I learnt not only all the secrets of beer, but also that you can go anywhere by bike!»
Saturday, as is the case for many of us, is the day for long rides. No work commitments, beer only as post-pedalling nourishment, and lots of kilometres to grind in the valleys. «It’s bizarre, the older I get, the more kilometres I can ride. It’s a joy now to climb those very mountains on two wheels that, until fifteen years ago, I wanted to be my livelihood. Now they are part of it anyway, albeit in a different way».
We return to the brewery to exchange the last few words. Davide is calm, you can see it in his gaze. «I work as Sales Manager at EDIT Brewing. I stay in my world, I am a sales person, but I am happy about it. The problems are still the same, but the world of beer is undoubtedly more cheerful, more interesting, forever evolving and always fascinating, like cycling. I don’t clock in and I alternate between full weeks, with twelve-hour days, and others where I can manage my time and enjoy two hours in the saddle every day.
It doesn’t matter if it’s in the sun or in the rain, it’s my own two hours. It is now a necessity to experience those moments, isolating ourselves from everything and everyone, from the cars around us, from people talking on the phone. To find, while pedalling, that silence that only a bit of effort and an open horizon can bring. A simple, but by no means banal, open-air ride that ends at the bar (of course), ready to receive a freshly tapped beer crowned by its head of foam».